CC Sabathia won’t be making his final start of the season, as the Yankees announced that the left-hander suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain in his most recent start and will need eight weeks or so to recover.
So in one sense it’s actually good timing, because if Sabathia had injured his hamstring earlier in the season the Yankees would have been without him in the rotation for a couple months. On the other hand it’s an abrupt end to a very disappointing season that saw him allow the most earned runs in the league on the way to a career-worst 4.78 ERA in 211 innings.
Sabathia clearly wasn’t his old for most of the season, struggling to maintain his peak velocity after dealing with elbow problems last year. He pitched somewhat better than the ugly ERA would suggest, posting a solid 175/65 K/BB ratio, but his average fastball has fallen from 93.8 miles per hour in 2011 to 92.3 mph last year and 91.1 mph this season. For a 33-year-old with a ton of mileage on his arm, it’s a very worrisome trend.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.